Thursday, July 19, 2012

Don't Oversell Yourself

Each college recruiting cycle, I review anywhere from 150-250 resumes from students looking for internships and full time positions.  Most universities do a great job preparing students on how to present themselves through a resume and cover letter.  But, like the article below, I always have a handful of candidates that stand out - not as top candidates, but as silly and odd. 

The funniest standouts tend to be the candidates that "oversell" themselves and work hard to impress.  Here are a few common examples:
  • Objective Statements - I'm not a fan of these statements on a resume, especially in public accounting.  Most sound very similar and rarely stand out.  Many feel inauthentic.  The ones that make me laugh are the objectives about wanting to save the world with an internship.  Although interns are an important part of our team, most internships don't have much (if any) client contact and are not advanced enough to have a earth shattering impact on our clients.  Either omit these statements or keep them simple and realistic.

  • Overselling Prior Job Experience - I value any prior experience, from dog walking to being a bank teller, as long as you can explain what you learned and how you will apply that to your life.  Creative storytelling about common jobs feels like you're reaching.  I know what a fast food service worker does.  Don't try to make it sound more complex than it is.  Be able to clearly explain your responsibilities and how the experience has helped you grow.

  • Quantifying without Understanding - I know that career centers recommend quantifying results.  It sounds great but many candidates do this without really understanding what it means.  For example, a candidate may state they prepared 250 individual tax returns at his last internship.  Without more information, this isn't impressive to me. Preparing tax returns can mean data entry, preparing sections of simple returns or completing an entire return with multiple complex issues.  I would rather know what types of tax issues he had to address, that he dealt with progressively harder returns, how he addressed review comments, that he compared prior results to current and was able to explain them to your reviewer.  I'm looking for technical understanding and growth, not quantity. 
Don't oversell.  Be honest and straightforward.  Be thoughtful about your experience.  Learn and grow.

Recruiting season is almost here.  Good luck!

Recruiters Guide to the Universe - These Words...

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